Last Sunday we had the marvelous opportunity to talk with Jake for Mother's Day. One of the many blessings of modern technology and his particular mission, is the ability to talk to him on Skypes; we were able to not only speak with him, but to see his little home and a gorgeous view of the ocean from his porch. A generous member in his area lent his laptop to the missionaries for the occasion, so Jake took it inside and showed us around.
He is currently living in a small hut with a tin-looking roof that I can imagine creates quite the symphony of sounds during hurricanes. There is a gap between the roof and the top of his wall where all sorts of cool creatures (rats, lizards, spiders, etc..) come in through; in fact, as he was speaking to us, a giant gecko was hanging out on his wall. He sleeps on a sleeping pad surrounded by a mosquito net. We asked him if the rats chew holes in it and he simply responded with his solution: all you have to do is tuck the chewed up holes under the mattress and it's good as new.
We were surprised to see that he has a fridge. It doesn't actually keep the food cold since they do not have reliable electricity, instead it serves as a lock box- it's what they use to protect their food from hungry rats. He also told us about some of the things he has eaten: pig brains, lamb neck, turtle, fish brains and eye balls, etc...
While the rest of us were filled with overwhelming gratitude to be living in the blessed state of Zion, we enjoyed hearing about Jake's love for the people in Kadavu and the lifestyle. He loves his mission and is completely on fire out there. He told us many inspiring stories about the people he has met and the experiences he has been able to witness with them.
He also told us that there are many different dialects in Fiji. He is speaking a different dialect on Kadavu than is spoken on the main Island. When he talks about Elder Farley learning to speak in his e-mail, he is referring to the fact that Elder Farley doesn't quite know the main Fijian dialect yet and now has to learn the Kadavu dialect since no one speaks English in the area.
In short, it was a great conversation! We loved hearing about the great people of Fiji and about their pioneer stories of starting the church and learning about the restored gospel. And with that, here is his e-mail:
Well it was so so nice to talk to you all. I love you so much. I decided that I would give the usual weekly update. I don't think I told you about everything that happened this week. It was a great week though and I had a great time being with Elder Matheson. He is a great elder and I have learned a lot from being with him this past week. Elder Farley will be flying in tomorrow and I have heard great things about him, so it should be really fun and I am excited. He is pretty green still- only been in Fiji for two months. So that might make for a couple challenges, but I hear he is really quick at learning the language and studies very hard. So it should be good and he will pick it up quick.
This past week though, one thing happened that I was very happy about: our branch service project. We went to the Hospital and chopped down overgrown tree limbs and cleaned up some weeds and piled it all up and burned it. We got a lot of work done and had a good time as a branch. Unfortunately the wind blew all the smoke from the fire right into the hospital..but it is Fiji so no one cared too much. It was a good time though. The entire branch came out and we had a good time bonding as as we served and showed the community that we care. It was a huge success!
We also had a great lesson with Lasarusa, the talatala (a methodist minister) who we have been teaching. He told us he has fasted and prayed and knows that it is God's will for him to be baptized. So when his wife returns from Nadi in a couple weeks, we will set a baptismal date. I am so excited for them- now if we could only find them a reliable consistent transport...
Lasarusa is also the chief of his village so he is a respected member of the community. We are hoping that will open the hearts of some new potential investigators. He and his wife Rogo are an awesome couple and will be a great asset to the branch. They have an amazing relationship and are the epitome of how a husband and wife should be. I love them.
We also started teaching a women we have talked to a lot but who had not yet agreed to take lessons. We started teaching her and it has gone awesome! We have seen her almost everyday this week. On Friday, she told us that she lives in the school-owned house on school-owned land and because of that, they are forced to go to the Methodist church, but that if not, she would be baptized. I was very discouraged because we have had that problem a few times now. I was about to sadly give up and say, "I guess its not their time yet." Then I learned a valuable lesson.
Elder Matheson told them to continue to pray and read the Book of Mormon and to fear God more then man and not to let things like that interfere with whether or not they will accept Christ's teachings. She then said that she, Luvu and her husband Peni, will pray and fast and if it is the Lord's will, then they will do what it takes to obey the answer they receive. I am so excited for them! They are a great couple.
I also got to conduct a few more interviews trying to establish a Relief Society, Priesthood, and Primary program. It was wonderful! The families and members we have here are so faithful and willing to learn and grow and help out! I really enjoyed getting to sit and meet one on one with these wonderful members and notice the huge change that is wrought upon them as individuals and families. It is so great to see their progress and watch their testimonies grow! They still have a lot to learn and do before they will be where we would like them to be, but that is definitely not from a lack of faith and willingness. They are such great people and they are doing such an awesome job of continuing after baptism to progress and move forward. They are really taking the gospel and running with it.
The primary returned from their trip to Suva. They loved it and were on such a spiritual high upon returning! They loved the temple and church in the big wards and with all the people and meeting all the members and going to see the LDS secondary and primary school. For a lot of them, it was their first time leaving Kadavu. Not only that, but their first time leaving the small two village area they live in. It was so good for them to get out and see some more of the world, more then the tiny little village they live in.
Church was really good. I prepared a lesson for Sunday School and ended up covering only slightly what I prepared because there was so much discussion and so many questions. But those are my favorite kinds of lessons, so it was great.
All is well in Kadavu and I love it here. The island, the people, the work, I love it all. I love you all too. Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to talk and hope you all have a great next week, until then Moce.